How to choose the right product management platform to scale product’s impact

How to choose the right product management platform to scale product’s impact

How do you know it’s time to invest in a product management platform? You might find yourself in one of the following challenging situations as a product leader:

  • You’re sitting through a quarterly product review and realize that two teams are building the same thing. 
  • There’s no easy way to see how your entire product portfolio is represented across teams.
  • You get prioritized lists of features from teams that are unrelated to your strategy. 
  • You realize that your teams’ priorities are always out of date. This means you’re constantly trying to bridge the gap between how your teams are working and how you report on progress to your CEO.
  • You’re struggling to have visibility into how each team is progressing. Who’s behind schedule? Who’s being blocked by another team’s delays? There’s no easy way to find out (and therefore no simple way to step in and help). 

Even if you’ve never found yourself in one of these exact situations, perhaps you’re looking for a way to make a larger impact and improve the efficiency of your product organization. If that’s the case, it might be time to look into a dedicated product management tool. A recent Forrester study commissioned by Productboard found that high-performing product organizations are more than twice as likely to be using a dedicated product management platform than other product organizations. 

High performing product organizations are two times more likely to use a dedicated product management platformIt’s worth noting that dedicated product management platforms aren’t the only solutions out there — some product teams use all-purpose tools like spreadsheets or presentation software, project management software, or point solutions that address one or two specific pain points within product management. You’ll find a detailed breakdown of the advantages and disadvantages of different types of tools here.

However, organizations with advanced product management practices (including having a dedicated product management platform) are more likely to over-perform on business goals. Forrester found they’re 103% more likely to effectively evolve the product portfolio, 52% more likely to increase customer retention, and 36% more likely to achieve revenue growth. This makes sense — if your goal is to build the best, you need the best tooling to help you get there. 

If you’re a product organization looking to advance your product management practices, your desired outcomes might include things like: 

  • Creating standardization across elements for your product teams like gathering insights, prioritizing, and roadmapping.
  • Becoming a trusted partner to customer success, sales, and support teams.
  • Strengthening your relationship with customers so they’re continuously engaged, providing feedback, and helping you de-risk your hypotheses.

If this sounds like you, it makes sense to choose a dedicated product management platform. Let’s consider some of the essential steps you’ll want to take to ensure you choose the right one for your organization. 

What should your decision-making process look like?

For a lot of product people, as soon as they decide to invest in a tool, they forget their hard-earned product management skills. “You can find a group of really talented product managers and designers who absolutely apply product mindset and thinking to the product they’re building externally, but when it comes to their internal tools, they don’t think about it as a product,” says John Cutler. “It’s doing a job for you. You don’t work for the tool — it works for you.”

So remember all of those customer behaviors that irk you when you’re in product management mode and be sure to avoid them when you’re on the other side of the process. Here are a few tips to help you take a discovery approach to your decision-making.

Start with the problems with your current product management practices

It can be tempting to begin with a checklist of features you need out of a software vendor, but remember to ask yourself: Is that the way you approach product management? We try to avoid being a feature factory in product, so why apply that logic to a software tool? Focus on what isn’t working with your current approach by concentrating your efforts on the “problems” section of the double diamond before you begin listing out your desired features. Conduct an internal survey to assess your organization’s current product management practices and identify any problem areas. You can then perform a gap analysis, which might uncover areas such as customer-centricity, strategic alignment, execution, accountability, and stakeholder management. Make sure you also talk to a broad cross-section of stakeholders (both within product and in other functions like design, user research, and customer-facing teams) to dig into their specific needs and pain points as it pertains to the product process.

Always return to the “why” behind your requests

As you speak with others, you’ll be likely to hear checklist items like, “We need shareable roadmaps by timeframe with team swimlanes or multiple release groups” or “We need a central repository for feedback.” But keep in mind this is too specific. Just as you would do with external customers, dig into the problem before requiring a solution. Explore why people are making those specific requests. What are your peers and stakeholders trying to achieve with product? Only once you understand that can you figure out the different workflows and features that could address them. 


After you’ve conducted your initial discovery within your organization, you’ll have a list of areas that need improvement that you’ve identified from these conversations. Once again, it’s time to put on your product manager hat and prioritize. Which problems in your product process are the most important to address first? For example, you may have a hard time closing the feedback loop with customer-facing teams or reporting on progress against quarterly planning may be a headache that needs to be urgently addressed. Which ones are nice to have but not necessities? 

Bring in help as necessary

Like any major change, selecting a new tool shouldn’t be a solo effort. You’ll increase your chances of success if you bring in an executive sponsor like your Head of Product or CPO to secure budget and later be a champion for adoption. If you have a product operations team, be sure to check in with them to see how they’d like to be involved. If you’re at a larger organization with several product teams, make sure you speak with product managers from different types of teams. You may even want to create a product trio with an engineer and designer or user researcher to participate in your discovery activities with you. And finally, you may want to include at least one person from a customer-facing team. Keep in mind that a product management platform isn’t meant to be used solely by product teams, but serves as a central hub where everyone from across the business comes to collaborate around the product, so you want a platform that can also meet their needs.

Evaluate how different vendors address your needs

Next, it’s time to evaluate the different vendors and make your selection. You want to ensure you are picking a vendor that helps you achieve the core jobs you want to accomplish. For product leaders, those jobs likely include running exceptional product teams, uniting the entire business, and going deeper with customers. Remember: You’re focusing on the problem/job rather than the solution for your organization. As you look at vendors, at a category level look for a system that is purpose-built for modern product management, has integrated customer-centricity, and is enterprise ready. You also want to choose a great product (you are a product person, after all!), so make sure you consider product differentiators as well. This includes a product that’s collaborative and dynamic and has delightful UX and a scalable platform that fits your product operating system. You’re not just buying a point solution for a set period of time — you’re also looking for a vendor who can help you succeed and grow along with you — so service differentiators like world-class customer success, an unrivaled community and a reputation as an industry thought leader are all factors that matter. Finally, you want to make sure you enjoy the process. Do your conversations with the sales team focus on your problems? Do you feel like you’re being heard and establishing a genuine partnership?

In the next section, you’ll see how one organization approached this process and how they landed on a solution.

How CompuGroup Medical improved collaboration and alignment while digitizing their product strategy

During your discovery phase, which problems did you identify? If your desired outcomes include things like building great products in a modern and empowered way across your organization, truly bringing the voice of the customer into your process, and having a tool that tactically supports you with those efforts, Productboard might be the right solution for your teams.

Let’s consider how one team approached the decision to choose a platform that would enable them to improve visibility and stakeholder alignment while maximizing engineering resources. When CompuGroup Medical Chief Product Architect Stefan Dorn started working on the CLICKDOC product team in November 2020, he quickly identified that the CLICKDOC team’s use of disconnected tools was straining visibility into feature progress and dependencies. Relying on multiple systems also affected the team’s ability to easily incorporate valuable customer feedback into the prioritization process. 

In his search for a comprehensive product management platform, Stefan identified the following must-haves:

Digitizing product strategy

“It was essential that our strategy could be digitized in every way, that we would have immediate information with one push of a button — so that there would be no need to ask several people inside the organization what we’re doing with customers,” Stefan says.

Giving leadership real-time visibility

Additionally, Stefan wanted to be able to give leadership much more visibility into prioritization and roadmapping. “It was important for us to create a roadmap that offered transparency to upper management,” he explains. “Instead of asking why a feature was taking so long to complete, they would be able to see the development work, how many dependencies affect the process.”

Involving the right stakeholders at the right time

Serving the needs of many internal and external stakeholders, the CLICKDOC team wanted to engage these groups at the right stage of the lifecycle to drive the most value possible. Stefan’s team pondered: “How can we integrate our external stakeholders in roadmap planning and our internal teams in discussions on what we would like to build and when and why?”

With these core needs in mind, Stefan decided Productboard was the right platform to drive the changes CLICKDOC hoped to see. “There were so many construction areas in our product development process, and Productboard was the exact fit for our problems — with Insights, the feature creation process, prioritization, and the Jira integration. I also love the Portal function. That was, for me, a decision to say: ‘Okay, we need this one tool for CGM,’ and we got started.”

Now that they’re using Productboard, the CLICKDOC team has experienced a wide array of benefits, including: 

  • Providing transparency at the highest level by offering unlimited product business units access to CLICKDOC’s insights, features, and roadmap. 
  • Getting to market 20% faster with Productboard by effectively tracking and incorporating insights to market relevant features
  • Adding structure to CompuGroup Medical’s international product management strategy and streamlining workflows
  • Improving collaboration between international product business units
  • Strengthening external and cross-functional relationships by contacting customers, prospects, and internal stakeholders directly when a feature they requested is live
  • Saving time using a single source of truth, with teams no longer having to ask questions of a lot of product managers, search on different sites, in excel, or PowerPoint files
  • Maximizing the impact of product messaging and launches in an enterprise company

Explore Stefan and the CLICKDOC product team’s story in more detail here


Curious to learn how Productboard can help you achieve your product goals? Get in touch to book a customized demo.

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